Do we pause to praise when we feel overwhelmed by work or face a daunting deadline? Do we think of praising God amid pain, chaos, or suffering?
Published on: 12-27-2022
On October 16, 2022, we welcomed our firstborn, Judah, into this world. The moment we had been anticipating for months had finally arrived. Our baby greeted the world loudly before he was carried away by the pediatrician. All the hours of painful labor and the months of discomfort vanished at the sound of his piercing cry. As I faded in and out of consciousness in the delivery room, the only thing I remember was saying, “Thank You, Lord.”
Praise, the linchpin in our Christian journey, is an expression of love and admiration of our God. The Israelites burst into praise with songs of joy and deliverance after they crossed the Red Sea. David danced before the Lord with joy; the patriarchs built altars of praise; and the 24 elders bow before the throne saying, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power” (Rev. 4:10, 11, NIV).
Praise naturally flows during our mountaintop experiences. We respond in worship, awe, thanksgiving, tears, and joy during these intimate moments spent in the presence of God. At times we wait for something dramatic to occur to find ourselves bowing before the Lord. Whether it be a burning bush, a talking donkey, a parted sea, or a miraculous healing, exuberant praise is often preceded by extraordinary events.
But how about praise in the ordinary? Do we pause to praise when we feel overwhelmed by work or face a daunting deadline? Do we think of praising God amid pain, chaos, or suffering? It’s not natural, and it doesn’t come easy. This reminds me of my fellow students from Ukraine that I have the privilege of teaching English online as part of my scholarship work. I always begin by asking about their welfare. I have received mixed responses, spanning from “so-so,” “OK,” “good,” to sighs with a look of uncertainty. How would I respond if I were in their situation? Would I praise under these circumstances?
One admirable quality reflected in David’s psalms is praise and worship even in dire times. David had found the secret to surviving in this broken world. “Praise!” Just praise! Praise moves our gaze from ourselves and our circumstances to our mighty God—our God of joy and peace. This attitude of praise then generates a sense of hope and confidence.
Yadah, a Hebrew word that describes praise, invites us to raise our hands in thanksgiving. It also invites us to lift our hearts in praise even if the wait seems long or the hope of deliverance grows dim. It reminds us to lift our petitions in prayer and thanksgiving even when our heart aches or our dreams feel shattered. Yadah eventually leads us to lift our lives to the only One as we realize our helplessness and recognize His awesomeness.
We praised God as we read together the first passage of Scripture for Judah: “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together” (Ps. 34:1-3). May this year be one of resounding praise.